Every worksite needs to be clean and orderly in order to function safely and productively. Sanitation is especially important in the food product manufacturing industry. Federal laws and standards are explicit and stringent in mandating how food products are manufactured with specifications on industrial equipment and industrial supplies used in this industry. When it comes to producing foodstuffs, any contamination from bacteria or even dirt can cause health problems for end consumers.
In order to meet sanitation requirements while also maintaining a safe and effective workplace, there are a wide variety of industrial supplies designed to be utilized in this setting. Food compatible industrial equipment is designed to handle products safely while promoting a sanitary environment. In the end, utilizing the right products empowers companies to excel.
Materials Used In Food Grade Industrial Equipment
Typically, manufacturers in this field utilize a common set of materials for process machinery. Sanitation properties are essential when designing production lines in addition to typical design concerns. For exposed surfaces on working machinery, smooth and polished materials are utilized. This type of surface is easier to clean and does not promote the growth of bacteria like a rough surface would. The most common way to achieve this specification is with the use of polished stainless steel.
However, stainless steel can be cost prohibitive for certain pieces of machinery. Polymer and plastic blends can also be utilized as long as they are smooth and polished. Another option incorporates standard carbon steel with a zinc or chrome plating to keep costs low while maintaining a smooth surface. Anti-microbial coatings and even Teflon can be applied for additional prevention of contamination.
These materials are in common use for the food industry for another reason. While corrosion is a problem in any industry, when handling food items, rust presents additional problems. Metal contamination will cause food to take on an unpleasant taste, odor, or color as well as putting toxic materials into finished products. A strong corrosion resistance is also necessary in order to withstand alkaline washing solutions and acidic ingredients.
To make matters more complicated, industry equipment used in this field may also be used in high or low temperature production steps. High temperature baking, cooking, or frying as well as low temperature freezing and preserving process steps create significant temperature swings. Industrial supplies have to be selected that will perform at low and high temperatures in addition to room temperature.
Essential Industrial Supplies: Food Grade Lubricants
Every moving part on a machine requires lubrication, but conventional oils and greases are incompatible with food products. If these lubricants contact goods on the production line, the resulting products will be off color, off taste, and toxic when consumed. Of course, lubricants are still required for process machinery, so food grade materials have been designed to keep industrial equipment running without contaminating products from incidental exposure.
These lubrication solutions are made to be odorless, colorless, tasteless, and non-toxic. They are rated for incidental contact with foodstuffs without causing harmful side effects for consumers. While vegetable oil was used for lubrication in past years, today's specially blended products are tested and approved as safe for use.
These types of industrial supplies come in a wide variety of different products for nearly any lubrication application. Silicone lube and belt dressings are available in food-safe varieties. Machine bearings can be greased with these products as well. There are even automatic feeders that can be attached to a grease fitting and provide a steady stream of lube, helping to reduce the amount of time maintenance personnel have to spend on that machine. Other varieties include anti-seize, pneumatic lube, and anti-wear to low temperature and high temperature oils and greases. This list also includes heat transfer fluids and coolants that are rated for incidental contact with products, in addition to hydraulic fluids and gear lube.
Worker Safety And Productivity
Personal protective equipment and industrial supplies for workers also play an important role in safe and productive work environments. Standard personal protective equipment that is supplemented with additional sanitation equipment is ideal for workers in this field. For example, hair nets, latex gloves, and face masks help keep workers safe and prevent contamination with the items with which they are working.
At the end of the day, every facility is responsible for following the best practices and standards in order to produce a safe product. With the wide range of tools available, every business can meet this goal.